49 U.S. Code § 310. Aligning Federal environmental reviews

(a) Coordinated and Concurrent Environmental Reviews.—
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this section, the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the heads of Federal agencies likely to have substantive review or approval responsibilities under Federal law, shall develop a coordinated and concurrent environmental review and permitting process for transportation projects when initiating an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (in this section referred to as “NEPA”).
(b) Contents.—The coordinated and concurrent environmental review and permitting process developed under subsection (a) shall—
(1)
ensure that the Department of Transportation and agencies of jurisdiction possess sufficient information early in the review process to determine a statement of a transportation project’s purpose and need and range of alternatives for analysis that the lead agency and agencies of jurisdiction will rely on for concurrent environmental reviews and permitting decisions required for the proposed project;
(2)
achieve early concurrence or issue resolution during the NEPA scoping process on the Department of Transportation’s statement of a project’s purpose and need, and during development of the environmental impact statement on the range of alternatives for analysis, that the lead agency and agencies of jurisdiction will rely on for concurrent environmental reviews and permitting decisions required for the proposed project absent circumstances that require reconsideration in order to meet an agency of jurisdiction’s obligations under a statute or Executive order; and
(3)
achieve concurrence or issue resolution in an expedited manner if circumstances arise that require a reconsideration of the purpose and need or range of alternatives considered during any Federal agency’s environmental or permitting review in order to meet an agency of jurisdiction’s obligations under a statute or Executive order.
(c) Environmental Checklist.—
(1) In general.—
Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary of Transportation and Federal agencies of jurisdiction likely to have substantive review or approval responsibilities on transportation projects shall jointly develop a checklist to help project sponsors identify potential natural, cultural, and historic resources in the area of a proposed project.
(2) Purpose.—The purpose of the checklist shall be to—
(A)
identify agencies of jurisdiction and cooperating agencies;
(B)
develop the information needed for the purpose and need and alternatives for analysis; and
(C)
improve interagency collaboration to help expedite the permitting process for the lead agency and agencies of jurisdiction.
(d) Interagency Collaboration.—
(1) In general.—
Consistent with Federal environmental statutes, the Secretary of Transportation shall facilitate annual interagency collaboration sessions at the appropriate jurisdictional level to coordinate business plans and facilitate coordination of workload planning and workforce management.
(2) Purpose of collaboration sessions.—The interagency collaboration sessions shall ensure that agency staff is—
(A)
fully engaged;
(B)
utilizing the flexibility of existing regulations, policies, and guidance; and
(C)
identifying additional actions to facilitate high quality, efficient, and targeted environmental reviews and permitting decisions.
(3) Focus of collaboration sessions.—The interagency collaboration sessions, and the interagency collaborations generated by the sessions, shall focus on methods to—
(A)
work with State and local transportation entities to improve project planning, siting, and application quality; and
(B)
consult and coordinate with relevant stakeholders and Federal, tribal, State, and local representatives early in permitting processes.
(4) Consultation.—
The interagency collaboration sessions shall include a consultation with groups or individuals representing State, tribal, and local governments that are engaged in the infrastructure permitting process.
(e) Performance Measurement.—
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with relevant Federal agencies, shall establish a program to measure and report on progress toward aligning Federal reviews and reducing permitting and project delivery time as outlined in this section.
(f) Reports.—
(1) Report to congress.—Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section and biennially thereafter, the Secretary of Transportation shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives, and make publicly available on the Department of Transportation website, a report that describes—
(A)
progress in aligning Federal environmental reviews under this section; and
(B)
the impact this section has had on accelerating the environmental review and permitting process.
(2) Inspector general report.—Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this section, the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report that describes—
(A)
progress in aligning Federal environmental reviews under this section; and
(B)
the impact this section has had on accelerating the environmental review and permitting process.
(g) Savings Provision.—
This section shall not apply to any project subject to section 139 of title 23.
References in Text

The date of enactment of this section, referred to in subsecs. (a), (c)(1), (e), and (f)(1), (2), is the date of enactment of Pub. L. 114–94, which was approved Dec. 4, 2015.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, referred to in subsec. (a), is Pub. L. 91–190, Jan. 1, 1970, 83 Stat. 852, which is classified generally to chapter 55 (§ 4321 et seq.) of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 4321 of Title 42 and Tables.

Amendments

2019—Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 115–420 inserted “, and make publicly available on the Department of Transportation website,” after “House of Representatives” in introductory provisions.

Effective Date

Section effective Oct. 1, 2015, see section 1003 of Pub. L. 114–94, set out as an Effective Date of 2015 Amendment note under section 5313 of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.